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I'm just getting started with LaTeX to write scientific papers. I don't want to have paragraph indentation, so I've used the parskip package to deal with that. However, that doesn't seem to deal with the indentation of the first line of the abstract. I've tried manually setting parident but that doesn't seem to work either.

Is there a special way of setting the paragraph indent within the abstract section?

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{parskip}

\begin{document}

\title{What are the fundamental gaps in scientific knowledge?}
\author{Robin Wilson}

\maketitle

\begin{abstract}
Recent reports by the global environmental ...
\end{abstract}

\section{Introduction}
Here is the text of your introduction.

And another paragraph here.

\end{document}
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You have the answer right in your chosen tags! :) –  Caramdir Aug 12 '10 at 12:00
    
thanks for your question! I hope you don't mind that I've edited your example to keep it small and more to the point. –  Juan A. Navarro Aug 12 '10 at 12:12
    
Thanks - should have cut it down myself. –  robintw Aug 12 '10 at 12:50

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

The easiest way is to insert \noindent:

\begin{abstract}
\noindent Recent reports ...
\end{abstract}

The reason is, that article uses a quotation environment for the abstract, and quotation uses paragraph indentation in contrary to quote. So, you coud redefine the abstract environment to use quote, but it's easier just to insert \noindent. If needed, you could additionally set \parindent to 0pt inside the abstract.

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Robin said that he'd tried manually setting \parindent so maybe that doesn't work (haven't tried it myself) because by the time the \setlength command is read within the abstract, the old \parindent has already been used to set the indentation of the abstract. –  Loop Space Aug 12 '10 at 12:37
    
Andrew: yes, but modifying \parindent inside the abstract could remove the indentation of subsequent paragraphs. That's why I've said, it may help in addition to \noindent: if there are several paragraphs inside the abstract. –  Stefan Kottwitz Aug 12 '10 at 13:26
    
You're right. I missed the significance of the word "additionally". –  Loop Space Aug 12 '10 at 20:43

If you want to remove the indentation of the first line from every abstract in every LaTeX document (or more precisely, from every abstract based on the quotation environment), add the following to your personal configuration file:

\usepackage{etoolbox}
\ifundef{\abstract}{}{\patchcmd{\abstract}%
    {\quotation}{\quotation\noindent\ignorespaces}{}{}}
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I saw a paper, written by two eminent mathematicians, that had

\def\ni{\noindent}

in the preamble, and \ni at the start of every paragraph. This seemed to do no harm to the formatting or to the mathematics (which is of the highest class).

So my advice is: by all means strive for typographic excellence and good use of TeX. But first class mathematics is both harder and more important. If you've got something important to say, don't worry that your TeX is not the best.

By the way, it's just as well that they did not need 'cancelled element of' in their paper, for its name is \ni!

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5  
I wrote this with my mathematical hat on. Redefining \ni in this way is of course a deplorable and sloppy practice, etc (with my TeX hat on). –  Jonathan Fine Aug 12 '10 at 16:53

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